White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told a judge in Washington, D.C., that President Donald Trump’s early October announcement on Twitter that he has “fully authorized the total declassification” of certain documents did not actually order any of those documents to become public.
In a set of tweets on October 6, lashing out against his perceived enemies Trump said that he has totally declassified “any and all documents pertaining to the single greatest crime in American history, the Russia hoax.”
He also said that he has declassified documents related to “the Hillary Clinton email scandal.” The president promised that there would be “no redactions!”
I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions! https://t.co/GgnHh9GOiq— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
In a follow up tweet less than an hour later the president wrote, “All Russia hoax scandal information was declassified by me long ago. Unfortunately for our country, people have acted very slowly, especially since it is perhaps the biggest political crime in the history of our country. Act!!!”
All Russia Hoax Scandal information was Declassified by me long ago. Unfortunately for our Country, people have acted very slowly, especially since it is perhaps the biggest political crime in the history of our Country. Act!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
But in a statement signed on Tuesday, Mark Meadows said “The President indicated to me that his statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders and do not require the declassification or release of any particular documents … in connection with the investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III.”
Meadows added that Trump’s October 6 tweets were instead referring to “authorization he had provided the Attorney General to declassify documents as part of his ongoing review of intelligence activities relating to the 2016 Presidential election and certain related matters.”
JUST IN: Chief of staff MEADOWS tells a court that Trump didn't mean it when he said he was ordering the declassification of all Russia-probe documents.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 20, 2020
Trump was just referring to his delegation of declassification authority to AG Barr, Meadows says. pic.twitter.com/jBAjKXWEAc
Trump has blasted that the Justice Department’s investigation into the 2016 election has taken too long.
Meadows statement is likely to upset some of Trump’s supporters who were hoping for bombshell information in the unredacted reports.
News outlets quickly sued, hoping to get access to the documents that Trump had just declared as totally declassified. The judge asked the White House to clarify the president’s tweets, saying “I think the American public has a right to rely upon what the president says about what his intent is.”